Dan of Imagine Dragons talked to PrideSource about his songs and the queer community, how his family reacted to BELIEVER (the documentary), and more.
Here are some excerpts on what he said about his songs and the queer community:
Do you write songs with the queer community in mind?
Definitely on “Evolve.” At least three of the songs were produced with (gay producer-songwriter) Justin Tranter, who’s just one of the biggest activists in the queer community. Just having him in there around me and the spirit that comes with Justin was certainly inspiring to me, and so there’s no doubt that as we were writing songs, there was a need to make sure that these lyrics were going to reach the underdog, were going to reach these queer youth. That they would know, “Hey, this is for me.”
I think “Evolve” has it speckled all through it, whether it’s just the album artwork – the rainbow on the front – or the lyrics. A lot of things are so subconscious in the writing process. But we were talking about politics a lot at the time and how he felt like his future was so unsettled, and it was gonna be less safe for him. And he was scared. So, we had a lot of deep, beautiful conversations that I’m sure impacted “Evolve” in ways that I couldn’t even know.
“After becoming this mega-ally rock star, have you been in touch with these gay childhood friends?
Yes, that’s been really one of the most fulfilling, beautiful parts of this process, just connecting with them and them knowing that they have a friend that fully accepts them and loves them and has known them for years through this whole process. Because you have to be Mormon on some level to understand how heavy Mormonism is.
But yes, we’ve connected, with two in particular, and we’ve talked about how they’ve both left the church because there’s really no safe space for LGBTQ youth within the Mormon church right now. There’s just not. There’s no healthy option for any LGBTQ youth (in the church), and that’s the sad thing. I wish I could be giving some options to any Orthodox religious LGBTQ kids.
About how his family reacted to the documentary:
What do your parents, who declined to be in your documentary, “Believer,” think of the film?
I sent the movie to all my family because I just wanted to take that step and not have it be an awkward thing in the family. My mom and dad came to the premiere.
It was huge. I know that for the most part we all see a little different on this, but with that said, they’ve all been really loving and supportive of what I’m doing. But, yeah, there have been rough moments, definitely, during the beginning of it, when I was just getting into it. Arguments here and there within the family.
It’s tricky because I love my family and I wanna respect their privacy, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t say … it’s been a little bit of a rub, yeah. Like I said, my mom and dad came to the premiere and that meant a lot. And my uncle, who’s my dad brother, he’s gay and Mormon and moved out of the United States years ago because he just felt like there was no place for him. He had to get that far away to be able to feel like he could be himself. I got to talk to him and I haven’t seen him since I was 8 years old, and that was the only uncle I didn’t ever get to know – my gay uncle – because he felt so unwelcome and like he couldn’t live his true life without moving a country away. My dad went recently and visited him, and that was a really beautiful thing.
I don’t know. It’s baby steps for me. I know that everybody has their own way of coming around to certain things and it takes time, but the question is, how long will it take? And how many lives will be lost or saved along the way?
To read the full interview, go HERE.
About the documentary BELIEVER, we have info on when it will be released to the public. It will premiere on HBO GO and HBO NOW on June 25th at 8 PM. It will also be available on demand on June 26th. I assume HBO will also air it on its regular programming, but it doesn’t say that. I would assume June 25th though.
Here is what HBO has to say about it:
“Directed by Don Argott (DeLorean, Batman & Bill, The Art of the Steal), Believer follows Mormon Dan Reynolds, frontman for the Grammy Award-winning band Imagine Dragons, as he takes on a new mission to explore how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members. With the rising suicide rate amongst teens in the state of Utah, his concern with the church’s policies sends him on an unexpected path of acceptance and change.
The film documents a year of Reynolds’ life during the process of organizing the first-ever LoveLoud Festival concert in Orem, Utah, to benefit such gay rights organizations as GLAAD and the Trevor Project, among others. While Believer takes a broader look at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ treatment of LGBTQ members, it also focuses on the suicide rate in the community, which has skyrocketed in the last decade. The film centers on Reynolds, Aja Volkman, his wife and fellow musician, and Tyler Glenn, frontman for Neon Trees, among others.
Hans Zimmer composed the score for Believer and contributed to one of the two original songs Reynolds wrote for the film, giving music an integral role in the documentary.
Believer, which had its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, is the second film HBO has acquired from Live Nation Productions, following Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends).
The film is a production of Live Nation Productions; produced by Heather Parry, Robert Reynolds, Sheena M. Joyce; executive produced by Michael Rapino, Dan Reynolds, Don Argott, Jeff Ciabattari, Willie Mercer, Adam Milano; directed by Don Argott.”